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Aura Aerospace Ranger (concept design)

Aura Aerospace Ranger passenger ultra-long-range hybrid-electric VTOL concept design aircraft, front view

 

Ranger (concept design)
Aura Aerospace LLC
San Francisco, California, USA
www.aura.aero

Aura Aerospace was founded in August 2020 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California, USA. The company has a passion for high performance large all-electric drone technology, used for heavy-lift air cargo applications. The company is in the process of designing and manufacturing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) passenger multicopter aircraft for advanced aerial mobility (AAM). (Image credit: Aura Aerospace)

The development program for the company started in 2018 with designing and building a ⅛ subscale demonstrator quadcopter that took to the air in 2018, to validate the technology and materials which will ultimately be used for production models. The next demonstrator was a ¼ scale quadcopter which successfully flew in 2019. In 2020, a third ultralight one passenger multicopter prototype was designed, built and flown which had 12 VTOL propellers.

Guardian eVTOL Platform Program (2022):

  • 2018: ⅛ scale demonstrator (quadcopter)
  • 2019: ¼ scale demonstrator (quadcopter)
  • 2020: Ultralight crewed prototype (dodecacopter - 12 propellers)
  • 2021: Ultralight production model, G1 (pusher dodecacopter - 12 VTOL propellers, 1 pusher propeller)
  • 2022: Full scale three passenger model

The company has also developed its own battery pack for their aircraft called the Aura Powercell. The Aura Powercell is also sold commercially to private and business customers. The company developed their own power cell because eVTOL aircraft need a burst of energy for takeoffs and landings and also need long-duration power for a useful flight range. The Aura Powercell has high-capacity ultracapacitors which provide large quantities of energy instantly for aircraft and other applications, yet requires minimal time for recharging.

Aura Aerospace has revealed their powercell will not burn, is very safe to use, is 90% recyclable and uses zero cobalt. The company states the Aura Powercell can be used for many applications such as: Satellite power, ion propulsion, electric aviation, eVTOL aircraft, directed energy (like flash lights), for audio (speakers), ebikes, high-performance electric vehicles (EV) and off-grid power.

The main aircraft goals for the company is to manufacture a very safe aircraft, one that is extremely reliable and uses high powered battery packs. The company noted that flying subscale remote controlled aircraft without a test pilot is very safe. Once a test pilot is used for subscale or full scale prototypes, the company recommends to fly the aircraft extensively, tethered to the ground, and at full throttle to ensure the aircraft's electronics and airframe can handle the stresses an aircraft has while flying in the real world.

Ranger passenger ultra-long-range hybrid-electric VTOL concept design aircraft
The Ranger is a five passenger hybrid-electric VTOL concept design aircraft designed for ultra-long-range intercontinental flights. The aircraft has been designed for automatic piloting but will also have a manual pilot override. The design of the fuselage has a canopy over the cabin for spectacular views for the passengers. The aircraft will have a spacious interior, room for luggage, a small galley and a lavatory. The fuselage has been streamlined for a highly efficient aerodynamics, an optimal placement for the center of mass and has a high thrust velocity.

The cruise speed of the aircraft is estimated at 510 mph (820 km/h), has an expected range of 11,185 miles (18,000 km) and a predicted flight time of 22 hours. The cruise altitude has been calculated at 10,000 ft (3,050 m) with a maximum altitude of 15,000 ft (4,572 m). The aircraft has eight VTOL-only propellers, eight electric motors and are powered by battery packs. For forward flight, there are two turbofan jet engines that use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The jet engines charge the battery packs during forward flight.

The aircraft has one main wing to extend the range of the aircraft. When the wing is extended horizontally for forward flight, the total length is 75 ft (23 m). The wing folds up during VTOL flight to reduce drag caused by long wings and provides much better roll authority during takeoffs and landings. This control results in less load on the VTOL system and provides a safer landing, according to the company. The fuselage will be made from carbon fiber composite material for a high strength and low weight ratio. The aircraft has no tail but there are two downward facing vertical stabilizers under the fuselage. The company reports the aircraft has retractable quadricycle wheeled landing gear and can land on a runway or road under power or can glide to a safe landing with no power.

For takeoff and landing, the eight propellers deploy from the fuselage on rods and when the propellers are extended to their maximum distance from the fuselage, the aircraft is ready for VTOL flight. Once the aircraft is in forward flight, the propellers are then retracted back into the fuselage and a cap (or guard) is secured in place to reduce aerodynamic drag. The company calls this a pontoon system. For forward flight, the company will use two turbofan jet engines that use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The jet engines charge the batteries during flight. VTOL flight can be done on battery power alone to keep the aircraft noise to a minimum in urban areas.

It is important to remember that all concept design aircraft specifications are estimated and can or will change as prototypes and production models are made, tested and flown in the real world with real avionics, components and payloads.

Ranger with VTOL propellers retracted

Ranger with VTOL propellers retracted

Ranger with propellers deployed, top view

Ranger with propellers deployed, top view

Ranger with wings vertical and propellers retracted

Ranger with wings vertical and propellers retracted

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: Passenger ultra-long range hybrid-electric VTOL concept design aircraft
  • Piloting: Automatic pilot with manual override
  • Capacity: 5 passengers, a food galley, lavatory and room for luggage
  • Cruise speed: 510 mph (820 km/h)
  • Range: 11,185 miles (18,000 km)
  • Flight time: 22 hours
  • Cruise altitude: 10,000 ft (3,050 m)
  • Maximum altitude: 15,000 ft (4,572 m)
  • Propellers: 8 VTOL-only propellers. The propellers pop-out from the front and rear of the fuselage when in VTOL flight. During forward flight, all propellers retract inside the fuselage and are protected by caps.
  • Electric motors: 8 electric motors
  • Power source: Battery packs
  • Forward flight propulsion: 2 turbofan jet engines that use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The jet engines charge the batteries during flight
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Window: Canopy over cockpit
  • Wing: 1 main wing (foldable wing). When wing is extended, 75 ft (23 m)
  • Vertical stabilizers: 2 under fuselage vertical stabilizers
  • Landing gear: Retractable quadricycle wheeled landing gear
  • Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft. There are also redundancies of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft providing safety through redundancy. Having multiple redundant systems on any aircraft decreases having any single point of failure.  The aircraft has full glide capability if it had to make an emergency landing.

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